Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. [Matthew 5:8 ESV]
Finally the people asked Him a question He answered forthrightly. They don’t like His answers because they are truths they do not expect or have been trained to grasp and recognize. Our assumptions and expectations always color our perception. We are trained to view life in a specific way. Any deviation baffles and sends us scurrying to find an acceptable answer to the dilemma we face especially when the quandary has ramifications outside of our experience and understanding.
Read the exchange between Jesus and those seeking Him for more food.
Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”
Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?”
Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” [John 6:27-29 ESV]
He has already declared their self-centered motives for seeking Him. Now He demands they change the way they think and trust and act. They wanted to make Him king by force to fulfill their perceived needs. As their king they would have Him work for their benefit after their own fashion in a prescribed manner guaranteeing a life of ease and pleasure where every conceivable need and want is met.
Jesus tells them to work. Work after the fashion for which they were designed by God. Work like Jesus works. This baffles them because they have been told all their lives they have to work in a particular way and given an approved method. Their religion and traditions tell them to work, to fulfill specific obligations to please God. Is there more they could be doing? What aren’t they doing?
Jesus uses the word pisteuo which is translated “believe” or “to entrust.” It means “to have faith in” God. Not only were they to believe the evidence of the work of God, in this case the “signs” Jesus did, they were to trust His promises. Their obedience is found in a intimate relationship with God not in the assumptions and expectations they manufactured and tried to impose upon Him.
If sin is an “in-your-face” rebellion against God then faith is an “in-your-face” rebellion against the world through believing, trusting and obeying God. Just as it is the whole person God redeems and recreates so it is the whole person He is preparing for eternity. There is no option to cling to the things of the world, the defiant ideas and philosophies, the false safety and security, the deceptive and insidious lure of the senses and pleasures, when one is ushered into the kingdom of God. We were not created for these things and to make them the obsessive focus of our temporal existence denies the image of God integral to our being.
Faith is the hardest work facing anyone and everyone called into God’s kingdom. Doing stuff for God is easier than being how God wants and we are designed.